Jamaica & a new Year 2013!

Every January, we take a week off for vacation. For the past few years, we’ve been vacationing in Jamaica (mainly because the airfare is much cheaper than the other islands). This year we went to Ocho Rios on the northwest side of the island. It wasn’t really our favorite. The water was a bit rough every day and we did go to Dunn’s River Falls on a catamaran and again the water wasn’t very tropical. But the cruise was a blast! Rain or shine, they know how to have a good time! Plus, this was a huge catamaran – 65 feet. The captain took us on a tour of the engine room, where it had two Cummins 250hp engines.

Back in Seattle in the middle of January and we are excited about the Boat Show. Our boat show is in two locations: Century Link Convention Center and down at Lake Union. At the big show, they mostly have weekend cruising boats and a few 40+ SeaRays, but that was about it. Down at Lake Union they had a good selection of yachts and sailing boats. They had a Lagoon 35 there again, along with a Fontaine Power Cat. The power cat was not our style at all.

What we did start to look at was power boats 45-60′ that we could possibly live on. At least the style of them, but we would have to buy a much older and less expensive boat than the ones in the show. If we lived on a boat here in Seattle first (and rented our home), we could make sure we enjoyed living on one before we invest too much money.

Marine West knows me well now, because each month I stock up on about 6 magazines and one of my new favorites is Cruising Outpost.  It’s a bit of a quirky publication, but I love all of the cruiser’s stories. It’s a whole another world that most of us don’t know about.

This summer we bought a groupon for a day sailing trip on Elliott Bay. It was a big boat, about 75 feet long. It was a gorgeous sunny day, but not a windy one. Great views, but not much sailing – hey, at least we were on the water!

Last weekend was the Lake Union Boat Show (they do 2 a year) and it’s nice because it’s normally warm and sunny. Our objective was to find a liveaboard and really look at them and see if we could actually live on one. We actually found a boat that would be ideal, (if only we were ready to buy) which was a Meridian  38 foot Sedan. It had a nice salon, big galley and two big staterooms for only $179k. Maybe down the road it will still be for sale?

We’re looking forward to the Anacortes Boat Show in a week and we’re also going boating with my sister and her husband on their trawler!

We’ve booked our trip to Annapolis, MD for the US Sailboat Show in October! We’re so excited and we’ll finally be able to see a variety of catamarans and talk to some charter companies for our trip in 2015. We’ll be sure to take lots of pictures and share them.

So for now, it’s back to reading our magazines. We lucked out this month, because SAIL magazine put out their first issue of Multihull Sailor, which was fantastic! Two other great magazines for following cruisers and their stories are Cruising World and Passage Maker. As you can see, we read a lot and are absorbing as much information as we possibly can. Good thing we have boaters in the family that also like the magazines, so we can recycle them to them.

Today it’s simply a dream

caribbean island beach

Boating Dream – Living on a Catamaran in the Caribbean

Our boating dream would be to retire in the Caribbean and live on a catamaran. How did this even come about? I started a personal blog back in 2009 when I was struggling to have children and was in my early 40’s. I wanted our kids to know the journey we had experienced, but we never had kids and after a few years I stopped updating it. It was a private blog, so it was really more of a diary for me.

Scott and I have always loved the sea and during every vacation to the Caribbean, we would plan at least one (usually two) catamaran excursions. I grew up with boats, had one as an adult and really missed boating. After spending time on the Caribbean Sea, we fell in love with the islands and the laid back life. We always pictured ourselves working or retiring in the Caribbean.


caribbean island beach

Fast forward to the January of 2011 when we attended the Seattle Boat Show, which included the floating show on Lake Union. It was a cold, wet and dreary day, but we were going to have fun anyways!

That is when we looked at our first (liveaboard) Catamaran, the Lagoon 350. The broker was trying to convince us to get into the charter business in the PNW as it was a great way to buy our dream boat. Suddenly, we were hooked and couldn’t stop thinking about that boat. There was another cat at the show and it wasn’t nearly as roomy or comfortable. From that point on, we knew we needed to do our research and read everything we could.

Magazines & Blogs

I started buying Multi-Hulls Magazine and other Sailing magazines to read up on sailing and cruising lifestyles. I also started following blogs of other catamaran sailors and their adventures. One that hooked me like a novel was the blog for Tritons At Sea. This guy was so particular and I couldn’t wait to read the next blog he posted. It was from 2005, but he had great advice, including lists and requirements that are still great today. When our journey finally starts, we’ll be referencing his blog. Then we found other blogs on sailblogs.com. This was a great site and eventually I was emailing some of the boats and congratulating them on their adventures. It was a great way to erase the dulldrums of the rainy days of the PNW, especially on a slow work day.

See, I don’t have a regular job, but instead own a local wine shop, The Wine Alley and I work here every day. During the week, we don’t get a ton of daytime shoppers, so I would pass the time following many of the sailing blogs down in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean. But that can also simply be adding “salt to the wound”. Reading about their tropical adventures at sea and then looking at the 3″ of cold rain falling didn’t always make life better.

A Trip to Antigua

Every January, we close our wine shop for a week and visit the Caribbean. In 2010 we went to Antigua and during our trip we took a day trip on a catamaran, “Wadadli Cats” that sailed us all around the island. We started on the north end and traveled west into the Atlantic Ocean and then back around to the Caribbean side. What a thrill and for me, at that moment, I forgot all about our problems back home. We were in paradise!
Antingua sailing excursion
 Boating in the Caribbean

What’s Next?

When we returned home, we again attended the 2012 boat show and collected so much information ranging from toilets to electronics. This was actually a bit silly, considering we knew we wouldn’t “launch” for many years, unless we won the lottery! But it was still fun to look, touch and dream.
Caribbean sea beaches

 Books, Books & More Books!

A few months later, I noticed all kinds of “real life” books on sailing and one that caught my eye was A Sail of Two Idiots . This was a great story about another couple, our age, who sold everything, bought a catamaran and sailed the Caribbean and with no sailing experience! Well, if they can do it, so could Scott and I and we both read that book fast! The author, Renee Petrillo has been so gracious answering all of my emails and answering our questions over the past two years. It’s a great book, so this is a must buy!

The funny thing about me, is that I am not a reader. My mom would read a book in a few days, but books have always bored me. But I love all real life books about sailing the Caribbean and other tropical adventures. I soon found myself reading: The Motion of the Ocean  (a book about a local PNW couple), Sail Away: How to Escape the Rat Race and Live the Dream and A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean. For birthdays & Christmas, we found ourselves giving each other books about Catamarans, Nautical References and Galley Recipes. Currently, I’m reading An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude, a story about a Toronto couple that heads down the ICW to the Caribbean. So many people have done it and so many are doing it, that we know in our hearts we’ll be there soon too.

In addition to all of the books, blogs, etc. that I started reading, local neighbors of ours, John & Kelly W. started their dream and trip in August 2012 from Seattle. They left everything and headed south on their sailboat. They made it to Mexico by the end of 2012 and have been enjoying the tropical Mexican life ever since. It’s been fun to follow their trip on Facebook and see where they are headed next. Since then, most of my Twitter & Instagram accounts follow mostly cruisers too.

So we began 2013 year, dreaming of our trip and trying to figure out how we will get there. Owning a business and having debt, doesn’t make the challenge easy. But we know with determination, we’ll get there in a few years. In the meantime, I wanted to share the little adventures, research and events with you so we can reflect on everything we went through to get to our dream. If we can do it, everyone else can too. Cheers, Scott & Ally


Scott Ally Caribbean Tourists